Burt Steel / AP file
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to supporters at a reception in 2004, in Kenner, La. Duke was fresh out of prison after serving 15 months for tax fraud.
Former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke is making an online appeal for financial support after his arrest in Germany prevented him from speaking at a nationalist gathering.
The ex-Louisiana state legislator, 61, who was dubbed an “undesirable foreigner” and detained in Cologne before he could address a group called Outside the Network on Friday, said he needs the money to stay in German and wage a battle “for my rights and the rights of the people of Europe to hear me.”
“As much as I would like to, I can’t just go back to Louisiana right now as I have to fight this improper action against me and our brothers and sisters,” Duke, who is now free but reportedly facing deportation, declared on his official website. “The truth is that I and all who stand up for the heritage and freedom of the European and American people… and the right to preserve their identity and unique human rights.”
While most of you will be getting ready for the warmth and love and friendship and family of Christmas, I will be far from home fighting the good fight… Please remember me and this sacred struggle for our people at this beautiful time of year that is such an expression of our exquisite culture and values... I believe you will come through with great generosity, even sacrifice at this time, even with all your personal needs during the Christmas season."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups and fights discrimination cases, describes Duke as the “most recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan leader and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial.”
Supporters see Duke as a political dissident.
“Because the person being persecuted was a pro-White advocate … his arrest has so far been ignored by the mainstream media, and the U.S. government remains quiet about this too,” wrote James Buchanan, who describes himself as an advocate for white civil rights, on the site Whitelaw Towers.
Grounds for Duke's arrest are unclear. The German embassy in Washington, D.C. directed enquiries about Duke to the U.S. embassy in Germany.
In Germany and several other European countries, laws prohibit hate speech that may incite violence against any racial or religious group and speech that denies or minimizes the Holocaust perpetrated under the Nazis. He was arrested in Prague in 2009 on suspicion of denying the Holocaust and promoting the neo-Nazi movement, and expelled from the country hours later. Duke denied the charges, saying he was there to lecture about Israeli control of U.S. foreign policy.
Duke served as grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. He gave the organization a make-over — shedding the white robes for business suits and arguing that the organization was “not anti-black” but “pro-white” and pro-Christian.” Duke was elected to the Louisiana Legislature, where he served from 1990-1992 before making an unsuccessful run for U.S. president in 1992.
In 2002, he served 15 months in prison term and paid a fine of $10,000 after being convicted of federal tax fraud.
He now travels regularly to Europe touting his books espousing white separatism and opposition to what he views as Jewish control of media, government and financial institutions.